Faith and Action
Following is the sermon notes from the service this past Saturday at Suite Living in Blaine, Mn. Cornerstone Church of Blaine provides a church service for the residents on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Saturdays of each month at 10AM. Feel free to join us if you are in the area. The folks always enjoy the visit.
Faith and Action
January 22, 2011
Faith is something that everyone has, that many claim to possess, but few can easily explain or define. While it is true that all people have faith to some extent, the object of that faith can be very different from one person to another. For example, we all have faith that as we inhale we will receive the proper oxygen, our lungs will do their job, our bodies will correctly process and distribute the oxygen and we will continue living for another breath. Some people will attribute this to their brain monitoring and doing what needs to be done while others will attribute it to the grace of God. Either way, there is the exercise of faith that the necessary task will be accomplished. Both are actually correct but one carries the explanation a step farther and gives the glory to God rather than to man.
The Bible defines faith in the letter to the Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version)
1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
What does that mean? This is really two phrases that mean nearly the same thing and is written in a style of Hebrew poetry that is seen in Psalms.
The word substance could also be assurance, so the assurance of things hoped for. When trusting in the promises of God that are found in the Scriptures, we are trusting in God to fulfill them. The object of our faith, or the substance or our assurance, is the trustworthiness of God and His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.
The word evidence could also be conviction, so the conviction of things not seen. When faith is exercised, conviction is placed in the result that is as yet unseen. Again, trusting in the promises of God, our conviction is that the promised result, yet unseen, will be produced. Evidence in this case is not evidence as may be presented in a court case; rather, it is divine assurance upon which we can hold our conviction or belief.
So faith is accepting with conviction the truth that is yet unseen in our situation. We accept the truth that is presented in the promise though it is yet unseen in the reality of our current experience. We base the conviction of our belief upon the reliability of the object, in this case the trustworthiness of God and His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.
Perhaps we have heard the term, misguided faith. This is not to say that the faith was in error so much as to say that the object of the faith was faulty. The term implies that the object of the faith was insufficient to produce the result of our conviction. Some people may consider faith in God to be misguided. To assure ourselves that our conviction is properly placed we need to build our trust in the trustworthiness of God. This is the beauty of Scripture as it reveals the character of God and all of the stories reflect the consistency of His character. We read how time after time God fulfilled each and every promise, or will fulfill those promises which are actually prophetic, for future events.
Our faith is built upon the proven track record of God and is strengthened by our experiencing His faithfulness, or trustworthiness, in our lives. Nobody as far as I can tell ever starts out with great faith, but rather builds and strengthens faith over a period of time. As we exercise our faith, or put it into practice, our confidence and trust grow. Things can get to a point that we take them for granted, unfortunately, as in the case of inhaling. Nevertheless, our faith grows and we move on to bigger tests.
We like to look at faith as a noun. We want to know what it is so that we can get a handle on it and understand it. Much like love, however, to understand faith is to look at it as a verb. Faith is an action that we sometimes refer to in the phrase, stepping out in faith, or in a secular sense, a leap of faith. Faith needs to be put into action or it is worthless. In the Epistle of James, there is a lengthy teaching on this subject concerning both saving faith and enacting our faith in our daily lives. He basically sums things up in two statements.
James 2:17 (King James Version)
17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
James 2:26 (King James Version)
26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
If I know how to play the piano and I have faith that if I depress the proper keys the result will be the tune or melody that I desire, it is worthless if I do not actually sit down and play the piano. My faith would be dead in that it is of no use until I bring it to life by actually performing the action. The action that allows the opportunity for the desired result to come about is the necessary ingredient for living faith. Putting faith into action is the power that we have as we trust God in our daily lives.
Let’s take another look at Hebrews, chapter 11.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (King James Version)
1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
We see here that through faith and the exercise of it that the elders obtained good report. That is to say that they found favor in the sight of God for putting their faith into action. The verse is not there to merely inform us that a few select people were able to find favor in the sight of God. The lesson is that this is how we are likewise able to find favor in the sight of God, by putting our faith into action. Read through the entire chapter which is sometimes referred to as the Faith Hall of Fame. Read it with the understanding that the people listed here were men and women that were no different than us. They, however, put their faith into action. When God called upon them, and others, they listened, eventually accepted, believed and obeyed the Word of God. That is no different than the call upon our lives to listen to, accept and believe the Word of God and then put it into action. Read it and look at the faith steps that were necessary for each person. Go back and read the account of each person. Look at the obstacles that had to be overcome and the doubts that had to be put to rest. Look at the convictions that needed to be established in order to put the faith into action.
Here are a few of the examples from chapter 11.
4By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
7By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
11Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. (And it goes into the story of Moses and his steps of faith.)
There are many stories that show faith being put into action. We are responsible for putting faith into action and that action is what allows God to work through us and in our lives to have a positive impact for the Kingdom of God. Without such action it is not possible to please God as we see in one example that I passed over. Verses 5 and 6 tell of Enoch.
Hebrews 11:5-6 (King James Version)
5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
“Before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Don’t miss the order here. The testimony that he pleased God was established before he received the reward. Can that be said of us, that we pleased God? The answer is most likely, sometimes. It saddens my heart that I can only say sometimes as I know that my self-centered ways are not pleasing to God. It is also an encouragement to know that Enoch was not perfect and was a man just as I am. He was a man who had sin and who had need of a Savior. He was a man who strived to act in faith and to please God. He was obviously a man who repented of his wrong doing and trusted fully in God for his deliverance and salvation.
Look at verse 6 again. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” What do we see here?
- Faith is needed to please God.
- It is necessary to believe in God.
- It is necessary to believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Putting faith into action and ascribing the proper object to that faith is necessary both in daily life and in our eternal destination. To walk with God requires belief and trust that He is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do. If we fulfill these two requirements and put actions to our faith, we will be pleasing to God as we diligently seek Him. And for eternity sake, he is our salvation unto eternal life free from the curse of sin and death. The alternative is eternal life in suffering the wrath of God for our unbelief in the lake of fire which was prepared for Satan and the angels who rebelled against God. Where will your eternity be spent? Cry out to God now to show you the truth and to deliver you from the reward of sin and unto the reward of faith.
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